Monday, 14 September 2015

The Sound of .......silence

After the April visit of the British Hillclimb Championship to Prescott there were a lot of mutterings and heated words about the noise abatement policy and enforcement undertaken by the Bugatti Owners Club and noise was once again an issue at the hill when the Championship returned in September - but this time it was a lack of it. Suddenly on the Sunday morning all went quiet - Jerry Sturman was cut off in his prime, the time display froze at 31 seconds and the sound of engines in the paddock stopped.

I must admit that my first reaction was that some local spoilsport had finally got fed up with it all and had called in the law to stop proceedings but as it turned out it was only a power cut - not restricted to the hill but in the local area. Eventually a generator enabled the timing to continue (though not the commentary which came back later when mains power was restored) and cars began to run again, but up the hill we were still in the dark about what was happening, though rumours quickly spread via the marshalls who were still in radio contact.

And that made me think about how problems like this should be communicated to spectators - should the marshalls have been encouraged to shout out to the spectators to tell them what was happening or, it being Prescott, with its commentary box perched high on its knoll, could we have had some sort of semaphore signalling system from up there!!

On closer inspection, here we have Jerry and Eddie Walder trying to figure out what is happening but I am just wondering if they realise that the floor beneath them seems to be heading in a generally downhill direction and maybe there should some ballast at the other end!!

It was a lovely late summer day at Prescott and Ettore's Field was full of families enjoying the sunshine and their picnics.

The early morning delays, which were then added to by problems for a couple of cars, led to the lunch break being cancelled which meant that our men and women in orange had a long day though there seemed to be sufficient numbers at some posts for a shift arrangement to be used to give them a break in turn.

At Prescott in April we were grateful for their expertise in the wake of Steve Hemingway's crash and during practice this weekend they had another serious off-course excursion to deal with when Chris Westwood went straight on at Pardon and vaulted the barriers in his Lotus Exige which must have been a frightening experience for him.The area behind Pardon is a walkway for spectators and we were lucky that it was quiet on Saturday and there were no casualties. A video showing the start of the accident is here. Fortunately Chris was able to walk away, battered and bruised, but once again a lucky escape for one of our competitors.

The battle for the Avon Tyres / TTC Group Leaders Championship took another twist at Prescott when Ed Hollier was unable to start on Sunday and Colin Satchell broke his own class record in winning a class with enough entrants to give him a maximum ten points.

His time of 44.51 took over half a second off the time he set in April (45.15) to break Richard Marshall's record that had stood since 2003 (45.39) and adds to other records he has set this year at Barbon and Harewood.

It is all going to come down to the last round of the season, even though I read somewhere that Ed may be out for the rest of the year. If that is the case then a class win for Colin at Loton would be sufficient for him to take the Championship as long as there enough people in the class to get full points - in June there were 9 starters so let us hope they all come out again. I have not forgotten that we have a round at Doune before then and while it would be great for Colin to get another class win there, it will not be easy with a number of fast Scotsmen and a record nearly 2 seconds lower then any of them were capable of in June.

You may think I am obsessing about the Leaders Championships in recent blogs but the people who chase that title are real enthusiasts who rack up many miles and they need to be on their mettle at every round as there are usually one or two classes where there is a solitary serious contender and a win every time out (with a few records thrown in) is often needed to win the overall title. Add in the problem of maybe being in a class with a low entry on some occasions and the quest becomes harder. The latest positions can always be found on the BHC website and the situation after Prescott is here.

This focus on the Leaders since Tim Wilson took over its organisation is great as previously it was almost impossible to find out the situation, it seemed to me as an outside observer.

Right, far too many words so far - more pictures needed. As we get to the end of the season it is always hard to find new cars to photograph, though obviously the Multi-Car Challenge helps out this season - this time at Prescott it was a Subaru WRX STi for David Finlay, flying solo this week. Cool number plate.

Another couple of cars I had not seen previously, this year at least, were Graham Boulter's pretty little Kudos Coupe with a 1.7 Alfa Romeo engine which was entered in the Modified Specialist Production category which has been pretty dormant this season

and Richard Walker's 2 litre Swallow DR14 from 1986, entered in the Classic Racing Cars. This car has been around the speed scene for quite some time and scored points in the British Sprint Championships with Stuart Webster back in 2001 and 2002.

However, the coolest car was Andy Clarke's immaculate Austin Mini Countryman - you do not see many of them on the hills but....

 I am sure that some of you will remember the more modified version shown below in 1980

which was driven by John Meredith and built by Ginger Marshall who we have mentioned before in connection with Reliant Kittens.

While searching for this picture I also found this one and, for all those too young to remember, but who have been fascinated by the Mannic Special, this is Nic Mann's V8 engined Morris Minor turbo

Colin Satchell was not the only one to set a new class record at Prescott. Mark Spencer (below) took Roy Standley's Class A2 record with a time of 46.08 (against the old record of 46.42), partly helped by having a re-run and thus slightly warmer tyres, but he has now taken both the Shelsley and Prescott records in the last month and the talent that was shown when he won the Midland title all those years ago is obviously still there!!

Ben Tranter added another Formula Ford record to his collection taking 0.84 seconds off Andrew Henson's mark in his Vector TF93K (I hope this picture is Ben but it could be his co-driver Rob Spedding - apologies).

Alex Summers also set a class record in the over 2-litre single-seaters with a time of 36.26, which was 13/100 ths quicker than Will Hall's record while the final record breaker was Ian Moss in his Ford Escort Mk1 who lowered his own record, set just last month, in the pre-1971 Classic Saloon Cars class.

It was a day for fast times and others came close -  Roger Moran was only 3/100ths away from Darren Luke's Class B target and won the class in Joy Hoyle's Caterham  - Suzuki and Chris Aspinall's was just 16/100ths off Adam Steel's up to 1100 c.c. record in another massive field of 22 single-seaters (8 of them shared).

Pete Tatham was a newcomer to the class having traded up from his 600cc Terrapin to a Force HC while there were a couple of runs (for Bernard Kevill and Scott Sheridan) showing up on Resultsman as NTR - no time recorded - that is usually because of a noise problem - but I never found out if that was the case on this occasion. As both of these were shared cars and must have made about 10 runs each up the hill over the weekend the selection of 1 run as being 'noisy' would indicate an issue with the reading or maybe a blip of the throttle at the 'wrong' point. The Empire Wraiths continued to rule the roost with Chris Aspinall and Simon Fidoe finishing first and second with Darren Gumbley in 4th split by Tom Poole's Empire Evo (see Gurston blog) in third.

Mike Andrews had a great run to 5th position and best of the Forces

and then we had David Spencer adding more variety in 6th in the Kawasaki engined Reynard.

Richard Summers was sharing with Lindsay this week and took a good 7th in the DJ which has been driven by at least 4 different people this year.

I tried during this event to find a few different places to take photos - my little Sony seems to be fairly good when light is consistent but when there are patches of sun and shade it does seem to get a bit confused sometimes. The two photos above were taken in the esses where there was a patch of sunlight big enough to accommodate a car, but later on in the day, when the photo of Mark Spencer was taken the sun had moved and the light became more dappled.

The approach to Pardon had a bright area early on though I was shooting from a shaded area but I got some interesting reflections off shiny exhausts and bodywork:

John Pick's AMS Murtaya

and Craig Spooner's Westfield

I still also carry around a camera that shoots with film and I often find I get better pictures with that, especially when I am panning, as the camera takes the picture when I press the button and not a few tenths of a second later. The problem is finding a processor for the films but Boots still does them though they tend to set the exposure level at the lowest common denominator so that some shots which are maybe slightly over-exposed get worse as they try and ensure that the more under-exposed ones are brighter.

So I hope that the pictures here and in the other blogs give you enjoyment though they may not be as sharp as those from Zipp!!

Now I know I put this picture here for a reason........

Of course, how could I forget - the BIG story from Prescott was Wallace Menzies run-off double. (Yes I know it is a picture of Tom New but at least the car and the location are correct!!).

Fastest in Saturday practice he slipped to third in the first qualifying runs and then went 0.85 faster in the run-off (36.20) easing ahead of Trevor Willis (36.29) and Scott Moran (36.37) and with just Alex Summers to go (Moran the second qualifier having gone up earlier as the slower driver in the double-driven car). Summers' time was 36.21 - and it was a win for the Scotsman by the smallest of margins!! From my calculations that works out at about 11inches at the average speed they were doing - so simple solution, Alex - longer nose!!

Tom New also scored good points with 5th place in the shared car (the same position he qualified in).

In second qualification Wallace ran a 36.70 to qualify second behind Scott Moran. (36.63). When it came time for Wallace's run-off attempt the time to beat was Trevor Willis' 36.37, which Wallace had already beaten earlier. This time it was 35.80 from the Scot and when Scott Moran only managed 35.94 the double had been achieved. Tom New finished 8th in the car this time.

A fantastic day therefore for the Tillicoultry Quarries team with Dave Uren in addition bouncing back from a first qualifying off to finish in 5th place in his little Force.

Coming from North of the border as I do, I have always made sure of speaking to Wallace at every round - that is when he is not too busy!! And I don't just mean working on his own car - if there is a fellow competitor with a problem you will see Wallace there lending advice and muscle power if necessary . We all know that hillclimbing is a friendly form of motor sport and the delight and respect shown for Wallace's success after a difficult time last year and the efforts to get the new (old) car to work were clear for all to see.

And here is the man and the car but in the wrong location - this is at Doune which just happens to be the next and penultimate stop on this roadtrip.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for informative and readable report - Julian Harber (Mini Clubman C1)